Last year, I made lists of great movie college professors, and high school and grade school teachers. In honor of the first week of school, here are some of my other favorite and family-friendly classroom classics:
1. The Magic School Bus Oh, if only every school field trip could be as exciting and informative as the ones the indefatigable Miss Frizzle goes on with her students. From the farthest reaches of the solar system to the smallest cells of the human body, Miss Frizzle and her students take us with them.
2. Miss Nelson Has a Field Day Miss Nelson is a sweet-tempered soul, but when students do not behave, watch out! Miss Viola Swamp is the substitute teacher. Between them, they teach their students many very important lessons.
3. High School Musical Go Wildcats! Jocks and brainiacs find common ground in singing and dancing in these tuneful, irresistibly disarming instant classics from Disney.
4. Lucas Everyone — yes everyone — feels like an insecure outsider at some point in school. I like the way this film shows us from the beginning that while its main character may still be a caterpillar, we know he will be a butterfly long before he does. Great performances by all, including a young Charlie Sheen, and props to the film-makers for staying far away from easy stereotypes.
5. Mad Hot Ballroom A program to teach ballroom dancing to New York City 5th graders in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens sounds like the last thing in the world that would be interesting or relevant to today’s 5th graders. But the beauty of this movie is the way that it shows that grace, dignity, elegance, and pride in mastering a skill are important, thrilling, and transformational.